Underage Drinking & the Law

What parents need to know now about the new Social Host Laws

Why should facts get in the way?

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You can hear the confusion in his voice when 20-year-old Jesse Poznanski tells the news cameras about the flash mob that overwhelmed the Rhode Island motel he manages. “All of a sudden there were cars and cars and cars and cars, and they just kept coming in,” he says, still shaking his head with disbelief.

Poznanski says he didn’t invite them, he didn’t welcome them and he didn’t provide any alcohol to the crowd of underage teens from Connecticut. It’s irrelevant to the Social Host Law as written. He points to his tattoo, inked in memory of a friend who died last year in a drunk driving accident as proof of his commitment to keep others from repeating his friend’s mistake. It’s irrelevant to the law as written. He didn’t know most of the teens who showed up, especially the dozen 15 to 17-year-olds from Connecticut. It’s irrelevant to the law as written.

What is deemed relevant? Poznanski lives at the motel and manages it. Kids were found partying in the motel’s lot. That’s all you need to get charged under Rhode Island’s Social Host Law. What is relevant to the local newspapers and cable news stations? Poznanski’s political connections, namely his town council president step-dad and his mom, who was the Republican party’s first choice for the state’s Lieutenant Governor race last year.

Is the arrest of a solitary motel manager — who is also underage — truly the aim of Rhode Island’s Social Host Law?

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To learn more:

Underage drinking pinches political family. NBC 10 WJAR – April 28, 2011 – Byline: Parker Gavigan

Foster police arrest 25 at underage drinking partyProvidence Journal, www.projo.com – April 26, 2011 – Byline: Thomas J. Morgan

Rhode Island’s Social Host Law

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